(Photo contributed by Cathy Caplener)
Remember that we are unique and thus, infinitely remarkable no matter how negatively we may feel at the moment about ourselves or how see things happening in our lives. We need to stay true to that underlying perspective and harness it so that when those moments of life’s uncertainty feels like it’s smothering us, then whatever temporary perception distorting that perspective will eventually fade and ultimately change! – Joe Dicochea
(Photo Contributed By Marlena Groomer)
“You have two ears and two eyes and only one mouth. (It’s) Because you will learn twice as much (more compared to) what you will ever have to say.”
One of my more common responses when interrupted while trying to get a point across, generally to the annoyance of the intended, is “listen with your ears, not your mouth”! It’s actually advice I have to remind myself to follow more frequently than I’d like. Maybe because I’m too passionate and stubborn about my own convictions and opinions, or I forget that I need to invest more effort into the lost art of actually listening. It’s probably a combination of both which can lead to the isolation of my own individual thoughts with the temporary (hopefully) exclusion of the validity of others’ conceptions.
I’ve formed the opinion that similar approaches lead to stalemates in our government by the unwavering stances taken by our leaders due to party loyalties rather than what’s best for our country and it’s citizens. Just predetermined grand designs without room for intellectual alteration for the logical benefit of our citizens and probably the world, but maybe best to leave the topic of national and world leadership for another platform.
Here’s what I have to remind myself which may be of use to you. Remember meaningful discussions invite dialogue with others which has to be open and bilateral. What’s being shared with me has to be heard beyond what I want to hear, what I expect to hear, and the way I want to hear it. I need to set aside the temptation to engage in “oratorical gladiator matches” of intellects where stubborn, unyielding, viewpoints are battled to the death! It’s just my nature that if I’m not intrigued or swayed enough within the first 5-10 minutes to at least reconsider my own point-of-view, then it’s unlikely that any repetition or increase in volume in further attempts have any impact. After that, I pretty much terminate cerebral activity and feign any further interest out of courtesy. To be fair, I’ve accepted that such guidelines apply to my frequent diatribes. I mean open-mindedness, respectful attention, and courteous restraint has its limits, you know?
I also need to set aside my opinion and my perception of the messenger so that I can absorb the message. It’s illogical but the more familiar I am with that messenger, the greater I tend to ignore the significant points of what is shared because of the persons’ title, delivery, history, and/or background. I find myself focusing on the intricacies of the relationship and perceived flaws in that person to ignore the most important components of their most generous contribution: WHAT THEY HAVE LEARNED, WHAT THEY NOW KNOW, AND HOW IT MAY BENEFIT ME!
I admit (probably without much opposition) that I’m opinionated with little regret other than the benefit of the information included in my opinions can be ignored as a result of its elocution. I understand since I’ve never been a good one when it comes to an exchange of information with someone as passionate, emphatic, and/or slightly arrogant about their own beliefs and conviction as mine – how’s that for self-awareness?
Here’s one way I’ve tried to get around the importance of my own self-absorption. “Indirect” interpersonal communications (texts, emails, phone conversations) with people in an an attempt to get divergent points across usually evolves into an impersonal dialogue that often erodes the attention and civility of the participants, or at least in my case. My preference is to engage in such discussions face-to-face so that I can see if someone is talking to me, with me, through me, or around me. For my part, I have to exercise self-restraint when faced with the two latter possibilities because there just might be something meaningful from the exchange – it just takes more discipline and patience but again, 10-15 minutes or I’m done!
Here’s the bottom line. There are 1,440 minutes in each day and we spend an abundance of time contemplating and pondering issues based on only what we know. We are not islands and should not be so immersed in our own intellect to ignore the external sources of information coming from those with more experience, resiliency, outlooks, or perspectives. A common phrase used is “you don’t know me”, or “you don’t know what I’m going through”! It’s probably true but more wrong than what we want to accept – it just sounds good for dramatic effect. The sequence, timing, participants, personalities, etc., may be different but the physical, emotional, and psychological challenges are too difficult to differentiate. We’ve all felt something similar and all take away something that maybe others can benefit from, so don’t be reluctant to hear or share it. Most important, we may not have to finally accept what is provided to us but out of the 1,440 minutes, at least give it some genuine thought, see what applies, and you’ll likely find something to your advantage.
It’s somewhat funny but it’s like school; we think that little of what we learn will be useful in OUR REAL WORLD until that moment we discover it’s usefulness if the precise circumstances and events call for it’s application. That’s what our daily life is; there has to be something in those 1,440 minutes outside of our own singular and personal existence that we can learn from if we expand our senses to at least entertain the external resources around us. Just need to be open-minded enough to give them some consideration, even if it takes awhile to separate the message from the messenger such as…ME! No offense taken though. Just trying to help since I’ve got the time and desire so at a minimum, think about it.
Photo contributed by Deborah Dicochea
12/15 (Morning Revelations of My Teenage Son)
Streaks of thin white clouds
Paint a vast baby blue sky
The brush held by God
Who never wakes up late
With the world’s worries on pause
And the Artist deals at work
Fluorescent yellow, vibrant red, and
Festive orange begin to fill His canvas
Light bursts its way into the frame
Unveiling grassy hills, towering trees
And fallen leaves to appear
Amidst all the reborn colors
Endless possibilities brought about
By these superior rays of warmth
Greeting the liveliest moment
Oh, how I love the morning!
(Dicos at Fenway)
“When you make people angry, they act in accordance with their baser instincts, often violently and irrationally. When you inspire people, they act in accordance with their higher instincts, sensibly and rationally. Also, anger is transient, whereas inspiration has a life-long effect.” – Peace Pilgrim
I met the mother of my friend Jessie at the gym and frankly it was a privilege. I thanked her for the son she raised and not because of the impressive young man I’ve known since I met him – that was the easy part since first impressions only last so long without something to fortify those impressions, you know? But here’s what made meeting her such a privilege: knowing some of the difficulties he had to overcome (with some of his own creation which he acknowledges) and knowing that without her influence, guidance, assistance, and support, he would have not gotten past them to become the man he is today. In talking with Jessie about those obstacles I’ve formed the impression that he has the mindset that every stutter or knee-buckling step in the past hasn’t stopped him from walking or sprinting towards the future with a much better direction in mind.
In speaking with Jessie’s Mom she was kind to mention that I served as some sort of inspiration to him but I told her that it had more to do with him than me for the following reasons and perception.
I’ve noticed one thing that separates so many when it comes to levels of inspiration. A majority (I’m guessing) likes the feeling of being inspired by meaningful words and stories that temporarily makes them feel in such a way but that’s where the lessons end. NTo them, such stories are entertaining and moving for the moment but general replaced by the next source of entertainment with little thought thereafter about the possible lasting influence they could have had as they reseed back into the waters that too often leave them adrift.
The rest of the population are not only open to being inspired but they also believe that they can be inspired, take whatever useful information they can take from that inspiration, and actually use it to drive them from where they don’t want to be, and towards where they want and strive to be with the a renewed faith that they are capable of getting there! I mean if something can truly “move” us emotionally and spiritually so much that it filters into to the core of our structure, why not use it to “move” in the best direction for ourselves?
I often think of the more tragic plots and sub-plots behind the stories that drive us to tears and it reminded me of something I wrote 25-30 years ago. It essentially stated that the suffering of “mankind” can bring out the best in “humanity” if it can give us motivation towards the purpose of further appreciation for what we have, and to assist those who have significantly less! This is where we need people like Deb and Marlena who live their dreams by fulfilling the dreams of others.
I need no greater example of inspiration than “Lauren Hill” (not the singer) who was featured on ESPN and I hope you guys remember her story and if not, I’ll show you the clip about her again or you can look her up on Google to remind you. That young 19 year-old is still here after living past her doctors’ prediction that she would die before 2015 and has raised well over $2M for cancer research since last November after her story became public. Since that time, she has served as my hero and inspiration so that I never wallow in my own perceived hardships which seem so trivial by comparison, and to drive myself to be as kind as possible to me and others regardless of how I’m treated or what I receive in return. I mean how can I allow myself to “suffer” over the insignificant when I’ve been a witness to “true suffering and pain” through stories like Lauren and the misfortune of experiencing the same on a more deeply personal level? That would make me feel like a coward and a poor reflection on the legacy my parents left behind before they left me!
I mentioned in something I wrote to Deb and J last week about the fact that I don’t really fear death for reasons too complex to detail here but I it’s ironic that I’m totally unprepared when Ms. Hill’s departs this planet, especially after reading her mother’s most recent post about Lauren’s condition. Although I never met this “random angel”, she has had a greater impact on me over the last six months than most people that immediately come to mind. J and C, keep repeating “Lauren Hill, Lauren Hill…” to yourselves on those times you think things are so rough, or struggling with obvious decisions for yourself because more distracting choices present themselves. While you’re wasting that time, I’m sure Lauren and many others like her would love that time and the opportunities that are being wasted!
So here’s the point and I apologize for the lengthy soliloquy but these ramblings needed some context for these concluding thoughts. I told Jessie afterwards that it was sweet that his Mom found me somewhat inspirational from what I’ve shared with him. Still, I don’t necessarily right to “inspire” but I am very gratified if that’s the end result.
I first started writing to motivate and inspire myself through some fairly daunting challenges. I also wrote to help guide and assist Deb and the boys through both calm and stormy waters as any good husband and father should, especially since I almost didn’t get a chance to do so given the circumstances that almost took my life. Thereafter it spread to a select group of friends, likeCole, Dee Dee, and other family members who seemed to take something from what I shared with them. From there, I continued to write for those same people and a growing number of others who could possibly use it, and because it continued to give me peace, a cathartic release, and just to remind me of so much I can’t afford to ignore again.
What I write I share with a great deal of humility and not an ounce of vanity or ego, and most certainly not in a misguided attempt for attention. Usually intentional attempts for the latter soon become transparent with a lasting impression that is usually contrary to the original intent. Trust me, my desire and need for attention is minimal but I keep an eye out for those who could use or rightfully deserve it.
The bottom line is that through a lot of trial and error with varying levels of success, middle-grounds, and products of questionable choices, I’ve acquired a lot of information over 52 years since I’ve had a considerable amount of time to reflect upon it. In the end, I needed to get whatever messages to my family in case my next battle with mortality may not end up as favorable and who else is going to care enough and have the time do it other than Deb? I’m so thankful that anyone beyond my close circle finds meaning in anything I’ve shared and that those who fall into the latter category described above (or even those somewhere on the fence) can use it. But all I hope is that if you get nothing from what I share, please find it somewhere because there’s an abundance of individuals out there that give us the opportunity. As for me, I often find it at times in some of those who may be reading this right now (i.e., Deb, Jason, Christian Dee Dee, Cole, my Uncle Sam and Aunt Irma, my cousin Marcy, Jessie, Marlena, etc.) even though they may not know it and all I can simply say is…Thank You!
I’ll end with this. “The heart that gives, gathers.” – Marianne Moore. It’s a big reason why I still write but more importantly why I continue to SHARE!
(Photo Contributed By Marlena Groomer)
“The moment you wake up in the morning is the most wonderful of the 24 hours. No matter how weary or dreary you may feel, you possess the certainty that, during the day that lies before you, that anything may happen. And the fact that it practically always doesn’t matters not a bit. The possibility is always there.”
I was thinking that each day should begin with hope but be prepared for some unexpected challenges. We should be confident that we can rise above and defeat almost all of them at some point and at a minimum, end up in nothing less than a stalemate. I just cannot accept that we should end up on the losing end even if bloodied in the battle.
Very few things are insurmountable if given enough effort, thought, time, and sometimes creativity (think beyond the box or outside someone else’s beliefs). Also don’t be too proud to admit that you are temporarily stuck or lost and need some help from your vested allies (i.e., your Dad) to get back on track. That’s why God did not put you on this planet alone! You have been provided with invaluable company by virtue of the existence of your parents who will help guide you home when you are lost. Just don’t neglect those simple challenges in those 24 hours; otherwise they eventually turn out more than simple and become an unwanted occupant of the next 24 my child! Again, I was just thinking.